According to research conducted earlier this year, rates of work burnout have reached all-time highs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 52 percent of workers report experiencing burnout, compared to 43 percent who said the same pre-COVID.

Do you suspect that you’re dealing with work burnout? Read on to learn more about it and its symptoms, as well as the steps you can take to avoid and manage it.

What Is Work Burnout?

Simply put, work burnout is a type of exhaustion brought on by constantly feeling overwhelmed and swamped at work. It can also stem from feeling underappreciated or helpless at work.

If you’re exposed to large amounts of prolonged stress (physical, mental, and emotional), your chances of experiencing burnout are much higher.

Signs of Work Burnout

It’s not always easy to tell when you’re dealing with burnout, especially if you’re the type of person who’s always on-the-go and is used to having a lot of irons in the fire at once. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re experiencing work burnout, ask yourself if any of the following signs and symptoms sound familiar:

  • Constantly feeling tired or mentally drained
  • A lack of enthusiasm toward your job (particularly if you once enjoyed and did feel enthusiastic about it)
  • Feelings of hostility toward your job, your coworkers, your boss, your clients, etc.
  • An inability to perform your job at the level you once did

Some people experience physical symptoms of burnout, too. For example, they might struggle with chronic headaches, chronic joint pain, or gastrointestinal distress.

How to Avoid Burnout

As you can see, burnout is not exactly an enjoyable experience. It has a serious impact on your quality of life, not to mention your job performance and sense of security at work.

If you want to avoid running into these challenges, the following are some important practices to implement:

Conduct Regular Assessments

Taking time to conduct regular assessments can help you to pick up on shifts in your work-life balance. This, in turn, makes it easier for you to tell when signs of burnout may be starting to arise.

When you’re assessing your current work situation, pay particular attention to how you’re doing with the following:

  • Planning: Are you able to plan your schedule in advance? Are you regularly taken aback by surprise tasks and assignments?
  • Delegating: How often are you delegating to others and finding opportunities to lighten your workload?
  • Saying no: How often are you saying no to tasks or assignments that you don’t have the bandwidth to handle, and how comfortable are you doing so?

Create Community

For many people, it’s easier to avoid burnout if you have a sense of community among yourself and your colleagues.

Do you have coworkers that you feel close to? Can you confide in them or ask them for help when you need extra support?

Take Regular Mental Breaks

It’s important to take time throughout the day to give your brain a rest. These days, it’s not uncommon for people to spend the entire workday (and, in many cases, time after work) thinking about various projects and trying to solve problems.

Make sure you schedule time throughout the day to check out, give your mind a rest, and destress. Stepping outside to breathe in some fresh air or even closing your eyes and taking a short nap can make a big difference.

Take Regular Physical Breaks

Even if you have a sedentary job working at a desk all day, working can still be hard on your body. This strain, in turn, can contribute to issues related to burnout, such as headaches or fatigue, which can make it harder for you to enjoy your job and feel fulfilled by it.

To combat the physical stress of your job, make sure you’re scheduling physical breaks as well as mental breaks. Get up and exercise regularly, or go for a walk outside so you can get your blood flowing and your muscles loosened up.

How to Manage Burnout

Do you suspect you’re already struggling with burnout and need help overcoming the symptoms? If so, here are some steps to start taking today:

Communicate Your Feelings and Needs

If you have started noticing signs of burnout, talk to someone you trust and let them know how you’re feeling.

Doing this can be awkward. However, it’s important to be proactive and address your feelings sooner rather than later.

If you try to suppress them and push through, you may end up experiencing more serious effects, which can, in turn, cause problems at work (particularly when it comes to your productivity and performance).

Establish Boundaries

In addition to expressing your feelings, make sure you’re communicating and establishing clear boundaries with your colleagues and supervisors. Let them know what you can and can’t handle, and look for tasks that can be delegated to others if you feel you’ve been taking on too much and are starting to feel frustrated or resentful.

Seek Support

In addition to communicating with your colleagues and higher-ups in your company, consider communicating with someone else who can provide additional support, such as a therapist or counselor. They can help you assess your situation, learn healthy coping mechanisms for feelings of stress and anxiety, and nip burnout in the bud before it gets worse.

If Possible, Take a Vacation

If you have the means and ability to do so, taking a vacation and stepping away from work for a little while could work wonders for combating burnout. Once you’ve taken a step back for a few days or weeks, make sure you use the strategies outlined in the previous section so you can avoid falling back into the trap of burnout.

Beat Burnout Today

Burnout is more common than ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable or can’t be beaten. Keep the tips listed above in mind so you can manage burnout symptoms if you’re experiencing them and reduce your chances of dealing with burnout in the future.

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